BBC Sport rowing


Related BBC sites

Page last updated at 17:04 GMT, Wednesday, 29 June 2011 18:04 UK

Tom James hails unique atmosphere of Henley regatta

Tom James
James rowed in four Boat Races for Cambridge

The Henley Royal Regatta offers a unique challenge to rowers, according to locally-based Olympic gold medal-winning rower Tom James.

James is part of the Leander and Molesey four competing in this year's Stewards' Challenge Cup.

He told BBC Berkshire: "Henley's amazing, there's nowhere like it, it's the Wimbledon of rowing.

"I'm looking forward to it and ready to compete, and that's always a sign that your preparation is going well."

James, who won gold at the Beijing Olympics in 2008, as well as gold this season at the World Cup regatta in Munich, says Henley has a different atmosphere to any other event.

"When you're competing internationally it's six lanes," he said. "At the start, there's often no-one around apart from the umpires and a few coaches on bikes - you don't get the crowds.

"Here there are so many distractions going on the whole way down the course and it's one-on-one, very pure racing.

"You're not necessarily going for a quick time or beating five other crews, you just have to beat your opposition and it's a lot more psychological in that regard."

James even enjoys the Regatta's place in the social calendar of the year.

"There's the dressing up and the silly jackets and it getting a bit boozy on the side, it's all part of it and I just love the history and tradition that's carried on down the years," he said.

Welsh-born James , who trains at the Redgrave Pinsent Rowing Lake in Caversham with the rest of the Great Britain squad, said things are on course for next summer's London Olympics.

"It's going well at the moment and I hope it stays that way because there's still a long time between now and the Olympics.

"Olympic year can be pretty stressful, particularly the fact it's in Britain. When we were in Beijing we were in a bubble and doing our own thing, but London for a lot of athletes could be overwhelming and it could be difficult to keep focussed on your event and treat it like any other race.

"We just want to keep our heads clear, enjoy the racing and not get too overwhelmed with it."

Print Sponsor